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Musings on Nigeria’s President Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

– TimothyTion,  a Lawyer and blogger on

Fela Kuti, the great Nigerian music legend, human rights activist and political maverick was born on 15th October, 1938 and died on 2nd August, 1997, aged 58.Every year since 2000, a week-long musical festival tagged Felabration is held to commemorate the life and times of Fela. Felebration 2013 held from 14th to 20th October, 2013. TheFelabration got me to dig into my music archives and listen to some of Fela’s hit songs and his song “Shufferingand Shmilling” one of my personal favorite; got me thinking about the present pilgrimage of President and other top government officals to Israel. The pilgrimage reminds me of certain lines from “Shufferingand Shmilling” and those lines which are very poignant are reproduced below:

Suffer, suffer for world

Enjoy for Heaven

Christians go deyyab “In SpiritumHeavinus”

Muslims go dey call “Allahu Akbar

Open your eye everywhere

My people them go dey follow Bishop

Them go follow Pope

Them go follow Imam

Them go go for London

Themgo go for Rome

Them go go for Mecca

Them go carry all the money

Them go juba Bishop Juba Pope Juba Imam

Then them go start to yab themselves…

Every day my people dey inside bus

Forty- nine sitting, ninety- nine standing

Them go pack themselves in like sardine

Them dey faint, them dey wake like cock

Them go reach house, water nodey

Them go reach bed, power no dey

Them go reach road, go- slow go come

Them go reach road, police go slap

Them go reach road, army go whip

Them go look pocket, money no dey

Them go reach work, query ready

Every day na the same thing

Suffer, suffer for world…

Every year Nigeria spends millions of naira on pilgrimage and yet corruption in the country is on the rise. One would think that if Nigerians are as religious as they seem to portray with the large number of churches and mosques parts of the country, they would imbibe the teachings of Christianity and Islam and therefore desist from their corrupt, fraudulent or evil ways or at least corruption would be reduced to the barest minimum. However, this is not the case as week in week out cases of corrupt and fraudulent practices are reported in the papers.

What happens to the “prayers” that those Nigerians who embark on the pilgrimage offer on behalf of Nigeria or don’t they pray that Nigeria should change for better, that Nigeria’ economy should improve, that there should be stable power supply? For years pilgrims have been embarking on pilgrimage and praying for the country but things have not improved. Of what benefit exactly is this “yearly jamboree” (in my opinion it is a yearly jamboree instead of pilgrimage) of a few selected Nigerians to Mecca and Jerusalem to the common Nigerian?

This year President Jonathan has led a number of his cabinet members, some state governors and other top government officials to offer special prayers for the progress of the country in Israel. Will things change for the betterment of the common Nigerian?  The book of Sirach 35:20-22, NRSV provides thus:

“The one whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds. The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds and it will not rest until it reaches its goal; it will not desist until the Most High responds and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment.”

The question then is this: will the prayers of President Jonathan and members of his entourage like Stella Oduah; for the progress of Nigeria pierce or reach the clouds or will they get stuck in the walls of the buildings in Jerusalem. Your guess is as good as mine!

I would like to conclude with a quote from Chinedu Ekeke which hits the nail on the head thus:

“The countries that enjoy over 80 and 70 years lifespan did not get there by prayers. In fact, many of them aren’t even known for endorsing any religion at all. They are simply reaping the benefits of responsible leadership. Their leaders, rather than steal from their treasury like we witness here, invest massively in health care, education and research, security and infrastructure…China doesn’t have churches and mosques littered everywhere. It is even doubtful if the country officially recognizes God, but the average Chinese lives 74 years. That’s how countries work. Let men handle the affairs of men excellently, then and there God will manifest. Even in the countries that don’t know God, His wonders are implemented by responsible leaders. Let’s leave God out of our wickedness and rebuild the country we’ve killed.”

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